Whether buying online or at a dealership, purchasing a new car can be a daunting experience. To try and help smooth the process, has come up with this handy buying jargon buster, listing those terms often used in the classifieds or by sellers. If there’s a term you’ve come across that isn’t on this list that needs explaining why not get in touch and we’ll do our best to help you out!


18AW – 18-inch Alloy wheels

4WD/ AWD – Four-Wheel Drive – otherwise known as all-wheel drive

A/C – air conditioning

A/T – automatic transmission – a gearbox that changes gears automatically

ABS – anti lock braking system, prevents the wheels from locking in an emergency braking situation, thus reducing stopping distance

Alternator – converts energy from the engine into an electrical current, which powers the vehicle’s electrical systems

Appreciation – when a vehicle’s value increases over time

AWW – automatic windscreen wipers


BHP – Brake Horsepower – The measure of an engine’s horsepower output before frictional losses caused by components such as the gearbox

BPHEV – battery powered hybrid electric vehicle (see PHEV


C/L – central locking 

Coup? – a two-door car with a fixed roof, often with a sportier look


Cruise Control – an automated system that keeps the car at a constant speed set by the driver


Dampers – suspension components that help to reduce the impact of the car rising and falling as it travels

Depreciation – the proportion of a vehicle’s purchase price that is lost over time

Dual Fuel – a car that will run on more than one fuel, usually LPG /petrol or electric/petrol


EDM – electric door mirrors

EFM – electric folding mirrors

EFS – electric front seats 

EFW – electric front windows

E-REV – Extended-Range Electric Vehicle – a vehicle that uses an electric motor for propulsion but also uses an internal combustion engine to generate electrical power and maintain a minimum level of charge in the battery when it gets low

ERW – electric rear windows

ESC – electric steering column adjustment

ESR – electric sunroof

Estate cars – a car with an extended boot space behind the rear seats, accessed by a door at the rear

EV – Electric Vehicle – a blanket term to describe any type of vehicle that is primarily powered by an electric motor


FDSH – full dealer service history 

FSH – full service history 

Fuel Injection – a system by which fuel is sprayed directly into the combustion chamber of each cylinder of the engine

FWD – Front Wheel Drive 


Gap Insurance

GPS – Global Positioning System – the network of satellites that provides the location and time information used by a Satellite Navigation (Sat Nav) system

GT – Grand Tourer – a car that is designed for long-distance driving 


Hatchback – a car with a boot lid that incorporates the rear window

HFS – heated front seats 

HP – Horsepower – the measure of an engine’s work rate

HPI check – a used vehicle history checking service that provides a report to determine if the car is stolen, accident damaged or written off (other brands are available)

Hybrid – a vehicle that is powered by both a petrol engine and battery-powered electric motors


ICE – Internal Combustion Engine vehicle – abbreviation increasingly used to differentiate vehicles purely powered by petrol, diesel or other form of combustible fuels from electric or hybrid vehicles.

ISOFIX – the international standard attachment for child safety seats which permits a compliant seat to be fixed to anchor points on the car rather than secured solely by the seatbelt


LED – a type of light source that requires less power to run than conventional bulbs 

List price – refers to the cost of the car as it is driven off the dealership forecourt; also known as the ‘on the road’  price 

LPG– Liquid Petroleum Gas 

LWB – Long Wheelbase – a lengthened version of an existing vehicle chassis


Marque – the vehicle make or brand 

MPG – miles per gallon – the number of miles a vehicle can travel per gallon of fuel 

MPH – miles per hour – the number of miles a vehicle can travel at a constant speed in one hour

MPV – Multi-Purpose Vehicle – a vehicle based on a family-car chassis and designed to provide maximum internal space


Odometer – the device used to record mileage throughout a vehicle’s lifetime. 

OTR– on the road – this refers to the cost of the car as it is driven off the dealership forecourt; also known as the ‘list price’ 


Park/Park aid – a system of sensors fitted in the cars bumpers that signal when you are nearing an object

Petrol engine – a type of internal combustion engine that uses petroleum fuel

PHEV– Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle – a type of Hybrid vehicle that gives better range (see ‘Range’)  in electric power which can be plugged into an electrical supply and charged

Power Steering – steering that is aided by electric or hydraulic motors, reducing the amount of effort a driver needs to use to turn the cars wheels


Range– in reference to an electric vehicle (EV), this is how far you can travel on pure electric energy before the battery needs charging.

RCL – remote central locking

RPM – revolutions per minute – number of revolutions the crankshaft of a motor makes in one minute

RWD – rear wheel drive 


Saloon – a car with three sections; the engine up front, a middle part for passengers and the back bit for a boot which can have three or five doors

Sat Nav – satellite navigation

Segment – types of car are divided into groups depending on size and shape. In Europe, segments are as follows:

A: city cars 

B: superminis 

C: small family cars 

D: large family/ compact executive cars 

E: executive cars 

F: luxury cars 

S: sports cars/ supercars/ grand tourers 

M: MPVs, aka people carriers 

J: SUVs & 4x4s

Space saver – a thinner than usual spare tyre 

SRS – Supplemental Restraint System, the proper term for an airbag system

Suspension – the springs, wishbones, dampers and links that attach a vehicle to its wheels

SUV – Sports Utility Vehicle – a tall-bodied vehicle with some off-road capability but designed mainly to perform well on roads 


TCS – Traction Control System – an electronic system that controls wheel spin by cutting engine power and/or applying brake pulses

Tip or Tiptronic – automa

Sarah Lewis


February 15, 2016

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